The government has taken an initiative to provide legal aid to the poor prisoners who cannot afford to hire and engage lawyers for running their cases in the court to get justice. In this regard, Home Ministry has taken a project titled ‘Access to Justice through Prison and Justice Reforms Project’ which has been sent to the planning ministry for approval, a senior official of the planning ministry told Bangladesh Post on Thursday.
The project aims to provide legal support along with completing the CrPC cases within the shortest possible time. It will be implemented in 33 districts prisons. It also aims to reduce the pending cases lagged in the court as many prisoners cannot afford to pay for their legal procedure to fight for their court cases.
With this decision, prisoners who cannot afford to engage lawyers will now get legal assistance from the government. In 33 districts jails, paralegal activities will be institutions in the jails. The project estimated cost is Tk 201.36 crore which will be funded jointly by the government and German Development Cooperation.
The German Development Cooperation will provide Tk 108 crore and Tk 93 crore will come from the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). The Department of Prisons will implement the project from January 2020 to December 2021. The official said the project evaluation committee of the commission has cleared the project. It is now waiting for approval of the executive committee of the national economic council (ECNEC).
As per the law, the court cannot sentence an offender without giving them the legal opportunity to defend themselves. Earlier, the government implemented two projects on the matter. Prisoners would be able to submit their arguments before the court through their lawyers. It would prevent them from claiming that they had been tried without any opportunity to defend themselves.